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Children: Day Care

Question for Department for Education

UIN 131384, tabled on 17 December 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the finding of the survey by Pregnant Then Screwed that 46 per of mothers who had been made redundant or expected to be made redundant said that a lack of childcare provision played a role in their redundancy, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of childcare places to support working parents.

Answered on

12 January 2021

The government prioritised the opening of early years settings in full because of the clear benefits to children’s education and wellbeing, and to support working parents. In July 2020, when the Pregnant Then Screwed survey was in the field from the 16-18 of July, official data shows there were an estimated 43,000 settings open with 417,000 children attending. This data is available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/2020-week-29.

Since then, we have continued to see more early years settings open, and attendance has steadily increased over the course of the 2020 autumn term. As of 10 December 2020, official data, also available via the above link, shows an estimated 55,000 early year settings were open with 792,000 children in attendance. On a typical day in the autumn term, we expect attendance to be 929,000, due to different and part-time patterns of childcare during the week. We estimate that the 792,000 children attending early years settings was approximately 85% of the usual daily level.

On 21 December 2020, I wrote to Directors of Children’s Services at local authorities, to remind them of the statutory responsibilities shared between local authorities and the Secretary of State for Education to ensure there is enough Early Years childcare for parents. We are not aware of any local authority reporting a current sufficiency issue. However, we anticipate that the role of local authorities in market stewardship through the next year may prove significant in ensuring that the market is able to continue providing free early education entitlements, and to meet the needs of parents.

We will continue to both monitor sufficiency of childcare places through our regular ongoing contact with early years departments in local authorities, and work in partnership with local authorities and the sector to support working parents.